Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Idol: Maybe Simon Has the Right Idea.

Ugh. I stopped watching "American Idol" this season when there were still about eight contestants left. The whole thing just sort of tanked for me. I thought adding Kara DioGuardi to the judge's panel last year was a dumb move, but Miley Cyrus acting as a mentor to anybody is just hitting an all time low. Sadly, Miley is about the same age as what seems to have become Idol's target demographic: Teenage girls. Have you seen how fast teenage girls can dial a phone? What adult is going to telephone a T.V. show to vote that many times? Holy crap. No wonder the female contestants were voted off the show in rapid succession. The only girl left for weeks was Crystal Bowersox, and the only reason she stayed on so long is because she was so damn good. Lee DeWyze can sing, but Crystal Bowersox can sing like an angel.

So, I only watched the last five minutes of Idol tonight. It pretty much ended the way I expected. I think Simon has the right idea though: Time to leave Idol.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dirty Ugly Awful Truth

It all started where so many addictions start: Montana. Isolation, long winters and the lack of a really good mall slowly erodes the defenses of many. When I heard two women in line at Target comparing notes on whose kid was doing better in rehab, I thought it would never happen to me. Then one day a friend decided to throw a party -- not just any party, but a special party. Soon I found myself surrounded by the paraphernalia of what would become my addiction: Scrapbooking.

I know what you are thinking -- it sounds harmless, but I used to have delusions of being a punk, a bad ass, a kick-butt rowdy art chick with an attitude and maybe too much eyeliner. Here I was in Montana, wearing a cashmere twin set, at a Creative Memories scrapbooking party with some crazy dame making paper Cheerios out of two sizes of punches and acid free paper. What the hell had happened to my life? This, I told myself, is seriously stupid. Then the Creative Memories pusher, er, consultant, showed me how to crop my pictures. With one quick whack of the Personal Paper Trimmer, my pictures looked somehow BETTER. My life changed. Why hadn't I thought of this before? My seriously crappy photography was vastly improved. The consultant leaned over and said: "Not only does it improve your photos, you can cut anybody you don't like out of the picture." Holy crap! It was like she'd read my mind and met my family! I purchased a few things that day, just to be polite, but pretty soon it started to snowball as things often do in Montana.

I found myself in need of more product. I had the Creative Memories consultant on speed dial. In no time at all I had bought so much stuff, I was awarded the free paper-shaper and was now a member of the Memory Keepers Club. Then, out-of-the-blue, the Creative Memories consultant announced she was leaving town, moving to another state entirely. Before I flew into a panic trying to figure-out where I could score another tape-runner, she told me that "they" were having a big get together for "National Scrapbook Day" at the local junior high school and I was invited. There I could meet-up with obsessed scrapers, like myself, and find a new consultant.

I sat in the parking lot that May day watching the throngs scrapbookers file into the school with their wheeled scrapbooking carts full of stuff. I made a note to myself: I need one of those, maybe two. The whole experience was more intoxicating than the heady vapors of an opium den (O.K., so I have never actually been to an opium den, but it could happen.). I was completely acid-free and tripping.

There was a big problem: How could I break it to my loved ones that I was engaged in something so hopelessly dorky? Always the rebel without a clue, the black sheep of the family, how the hell was I going to explain this new obsession to my peeps? I didn't even have any children to rationalize my lapse into "Mommycraft". Still, I thought I could quit at any time. Scrapbooking was just something to fill the hours of my day. Once the novelty wore off, I would move on.

Then morning I was watching T.V. and QVC was featuring a Xyron stickermaker for sale. I scoffed at the foolishness of this product and told my husband that if I EVER purchased anything so foolish for scrapbooking he must intervene. Soon I owned Xyrons in three sizes, of which I needed EVERY SINGLE ONE. It makes magnets, stickers AND laminates. The thing is a damned miracle machine. Still, I was ashamed. What happened to the girl who adored Siouxsie and the Banshees and read Samuel Beckett? She was cutting, gluing, pasting, archiving and couldn't stop.

Oh, I would document ANYTHING. My husband nearly lost all patience when I hopped out of the car after a tire blow-out on a bridge near Savannah to take pictures of what the mechanic referred to as a "catastrophic tire failure". I progressed from disposable cameras, to a film camera, to a digital camera. Going digital was amazing. Holy shit! The first digital picture I took was of a Blondie display in a Marc Jacobs window in Savannah. Why had I waited so long? This thing was 'dah bomb. Then I caught curious spectres in the basement of the notoriously haunted "Moon River Brewing Company". Digital was a damn miracle. You bet your ass I scrapbooked those spectres.
As if middle-age wasn't enough to kill somebody's street cred, scrapbooking was truly dorky enough to totally polish off any illusions I ever had of being the least bit cool. Somehow, I didn't care. Scrapbooking it seems IS my bliss.

So there you go. I used to be a punk and now I am a dork. A scrapbooking dork. Occasionally there is something so fabulous, I just have to document it -- like the bras above blowing in the breeze in Ybor City. Not everyone is meant to be deep. Some of us are shallow. Some of us are dorks. I suspect my loved ones knew this all the time.

Bottom line: Some of us scrapbook and it's O.K.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Duck-Lipped Disasters, Heidi Montag and Make-Up Free Monday

Thank goodness reality television has nothing to do with reality, or somewhere between applying spray-tans to four-year old girls and giving a burglar to the stars a T.V. show, I would be convinced that the entire world has lost its mind. Wait a second -- these things REALLY happened? WTF? My reality check just bounced through the ceiling.

As if that "reality" wasn't bad enough, now a movement has been started called "Make-Up Free Monday". Seems young women across the continent are suffering from "poor body image". Kathie Lee Gifford, in an effort to cook-up something to fill time on the "Today Show", decided to BRAVELY appear with co-host Hoda Kotb (drum roll) without make-up. The horror. For some reason this all has to do with Heidi Montag looking like a duck-billed, balloon-boobed Barbie Doll. Kathie Lee went on and on, as only she can, about how hard it was to appear au natural on national T.V. (And I guess that red is Kathie's natural hair color, too.) I hate to be a voice of reason in the middle of all this posturing and concern over poor body image in young women, but it seems to me that Heidi Montag's TEN plastic surgeries at one time, compared to the use of something with the temporary and fleeting quality of make-up, is a little, eh-hem, extreme.

Now my husband tells me there is a push for something called "Make-Up Free Monday". Swell. As if Monday doesn't suck enough, now we are supposed to face it without lipstick. Has everyone lost their minds? Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian removed their make-up for several magazine stories. If I looked like either Jessica Simpson or Kim Kardashian I'd walk around butt-naked all the time. As it is, I prefer clothes because I just look better that way. Trust me. I look better with highlights, too. Heidi Montag is the best advertisement against excessive plastic surgery I have ever seen. I think everyone is not thinking about how great Heidi looks, but rather: What sort of hack doctor would do this to a young, beautiful woman? She went from looking pretty to looking pretty weird. There is a rather casual attitude that T.V. shows like "Extreme Makeover" take towards plastic surgery that is disturbing. But make-up???? Plastic surgery is not the same thing as make-up. I have never had to go under anesthesia to apply mascara, have you?

So I am passing on "Make-Up Free Monday". I prefer "Tiara Tuesdays" any way.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cardboard Mystery Boxes and the Military.

In case you haven't been paying attention (and really you should) I am an Army spouse. It is one of life's little ironies that proves the Creator indeed has a sense of humor. I am also convinced that pure evil exists due to the knowledge that every couple of years the Army makes us move. They provide movers, but one these movers are the people have submitted the LOWEST bid. This leads to some rather harrowing situations which so far have NOT included moi camping out at a five-star hotel, sipping on a refreshing cocktail, while Juan, the pool boy, paints my toenails. Instead my husband, the Bulldog, supervises the movers, while I hide out someplace far, far away. I usually withhold this information from other military spouses because they have a tendency to turn ugly really fast if you mention this marital arrangement. Before I sound like I am just lazy and shirking my duty: I have had open-heart surgery. What is the point of having a chronic health condition if you can't milk it for all it's worth? Besides, the Bulldog values his job, his marriage, and wisely intervenes during moves, so I don't wind-up somewhere heavily sedated, drooling in a straight-jacket, while still clutching a handful of hair from some unfortunate packer.

The last move we refer to as "the best move we've ever had". This may sound good, but do keep in mind that the bar for this achievement has been set rather low. We once had to argue with a mover who tried to unload all of our stuff in the front lawn. I guess he thought we could move the stuff into the house at our leisure (she said sarcastically). Just when I thought things were about as bad as they could get, it started to rain. Meanwhile the mover argued with the Bulldog about how he had to be "somewhere else", all the while I would almost swear his eyes were rolling around in his head like Wylie Coyote on crack.

The result of numerous moves, some more eventful than others, is a huge pile of boxes in our garage. These are the sum total of what we have FINALLY given-up trying to get the movers to actually unpack them, like THEY ARE PAID TO DO, and instead giving-up just to stop having to argue with these people. Seventeen years of marital bliss and military moves have resulted in a stack of mystery boxes that filled our garage. Some boxes were labeled, but the label is rarely an indication of the contents. During one of our many, many moves, somebody got funny and decided to mark multiple boxes "lampshades". In the giant pile of crap in our garage we found two lampshades total and about 10 boxes marked "lampshades".

For the past couple of years, during our yearly termite inspection, the termite inspector tells me how "we" need to move the boxes away from the walls of the garage because they attract termites. Every year I tell the inspector how my husband is never home, I can't move the boxes by myself because of the heart thing, and there are just too many of them. Well, this year we got termites. Seems the termites really LOVED the missing roll of butcher paper the movers stuck in the corner of the garage. Butcher paper is, apparently, the akin to bait for termites. (See 4/17/2010 post for that tale of woe.) I knew the roll was missing, but couldn't find it because it was behind boxes stacked at least 10 feet high. So upon the Bulldog's recent return, it was decided to use some of his precious leave time to dejunk the garage. This was an arduous task in which we took mountains of stuff to the Salvation Army (I also lack the patience necessary to conduct a rummage sale.) It took the two of us four days to go through every thing and cart it away. Few boxes gave us any clue as to the contents. We ran across stuff we thought had gotten rid of YEARS ago. Is it just me, or do you think the the movers packed all of my recipe books with a CASE of Slim-Fast on purpose? (I am still fat and the Slim-Fast expired back when John Edwards was a viable candidate for president, but I am glad to find the recipe books.) We did find some stuff that had been MIA for quite some time -- quilts my grandmother made and my husband's collection of military coins -- things we are glad the termites didn't get and we will pack with more care the next go around. One box contained stuff neither one of us recognized -- some other military family has been missing a blue skillet for a LONG time. Sorry about that. I found a vintage white punch bowl from eBay I don't remember ordering, but was in a box addressed to me. It's nice and I am keeping it.

The weird thing is, the more stuff we got rid of, the better we felt. Unloading all of that crap was rather refreshing and we kind of had fun. Especially when that box of records fell on the Bulldog's head. Still, I hope we don't have to do this again for a very long time.

Now where is that pool-boy with my cocktail?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Attack of the Pearly Whites

First off you must know that I have issues about my teeth. (Y'all might get sick of hearing about me, but that is why this blog is called "Joannafesto" not "I Really Care About Others". If I ever start a blog called that rest assured I have either lost my mind and/or am completely full-of-shit. Actually, you SHOULD presume I am full-of-shit unless I am coming off a recent colonoscopy.) Back to my teeth issues. I have crappy teeth. However, I have reached a point in my life where I am no longer trying to keep them looking all straight and pretty, but am just trying to keep the damn things in my head. This is not due to a lack of effort on my behalf: I brush, floss and water-pick with excessive regularity. If I was to calculate my dental work tab, I should have a Mercedes in my mouth. Yet teeth remain gaped toothed and a bit more yellow than I would like. It is no mean feat getting all of one's bridgework to match. Some people look at paint swatches, I browse through porcelain dental samples. Considering my first tooth imploded on itself -- it just crumpled like a cookie -- before I was 25, I suppose I am fortunate to have ANY teeth in my head.

Perhaps it is just jealously, but lately I have been noticing A LOT of preternaturally white teeth on T.V. people across the land. These teeth are not just white, they are whiter than white: They are glow-in-the-dark Ross Geller white. The freaky thing is that a lot of the people who have the preternaturally white teeth have also had a lot of other work done. They already look sort of embalmed to begin with, but the extreme white smiles make them look absolutely skeletal. I stopped watching "American Idol" this season not just because it really sucks -- which it does -- but I just kept getting so distracted by Simon's whiter than white teeth. The twenty-something contestants with their imperfect teeth would be singing their little hearts out, and then there was the middle-aged judging panel flashing their perfect whiter than white teeth. I just couldn't focus on what was being said. All I could see were teeth.

Back to my own imperfect choppers: I am doing my best to keep them. I will pass on aiming for the whiter-than-white, perfect T.V. teeth. This is not just because I suspect that they are computer enhanced. Going through a pile of old photos I ran across a picture of my late father at his high school graduation. My Dad had a bridge where his front teeth had been pulled, so I never knew him with his original grin. In this picture from so many years ago, Dad stands in his cap and gown, beaming with the same gaped toothed grin he passed on to me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hats! Hats! Hats!

Every year the running of "The Kentucky Derby" reminds me just how much I miss wearing hats. I think it started when my parents (aka "Santa") bought me a leopard print hat with a matching fur muff. For a four year-old living in Pekin, Illinois, it was pretty much as close as I got to haute couture. Sadly, hats have all but disappeared. There is an occasional jaunty beret, an idiotic backward baseball hat, or an occasional sun blocking canvas deal on the beach, but the fabulous head-gear of yore is the stuff of photos and flea markets. Once a year, for a brief shinning moment, fabulous hats (Not those frump-du-jour things Queen Elizabeth wears. Couldn't she have inherited just a little pizazz from her nattily chapeaued mama?) hear gear reigns supreme at the "Running of the Roses". I have no idea who won the damn race this year; it's all about the hats.

This is how to rock a hat. My brain says I want to look like this in a hat, but in reality I wind-up looking like this:

Sad, but true. I live in a world where the only tickets I can get for Derby Day are on the infield, but that doesn't stop me from trying! Bless her heart for attempting this look in the rain.

Why is it that every place else blue flowers occur they look tacky, but never on a hat?

Another 2010 Derby Day masterpiece.


"A bird on the head is worth two in the bush." Actually, I think I may have the matching shower curtain.

What the hell is that blue thing?

Johnny Weir.

"OMG! Did you see Johnny Weir's hat? I am SO jealous!"

Everything looks better if you wear it on your head.

"You may not believe this, but my other hat is a wedge of cheese!"

Now THAT'S a HAT. Glad I am not sitting behind this baby.

This has nothing to do with the Derby, but I wouldn't want you to miss this bit of wonderful.

Or this.

I really miss hats, but how cute is Johnny Depp?